Classic Track: Mouly & Lucida – Chilled

While I had some difficulty choosing which Mouly and Lucida tune to select for this week’s classic track, I ultimately let the vibes guide me. The smooth glide through the cool cosmos that is Chilled ended up being my choice, but don’t let that in any way discourage you from giving the amazing Inertia a listen as well; both are equally quintessential examples of the Intelligent Drum & Bass sound that has aged like a fine wine.

Who could deny this 1995 charmer from the top-quality Timeless Recordings label? Serene synth chords underlaid with a soft, gritty texture invite the listener, followed by alluring vocal fills and snappy drums. Strings that sing as well as percussive pops melt into this blissful blast from the past. The song’s second half carries a catchy Rhodes improv that speaks to Mouly and Lucida’s skill in capturing unique sonic portraits. The overall mix here is brilliant – Chilled is an ethereal piece that sounds as if it were wrapped in silk.

Written by Luke Kessler

Classic Track: Parallax – Watercolours

In times of hardship such as what we’re currently seeing in the world, a respite, an escape, is sorely needed. Today we dig deep to find a 1997 Drum & Bass gem by Parallax that can offer a breath of fresh air. This delightfully mellow A-Side comes from the archives of Urban Flavour Records, the brainchild of Tricksta, that would eventually evolve into Nu-Directions – a label that featured notable artists including ASC, Need for Mirrors, and BCee, among others.

Watercolours paints a picture of rich tones filled with pleasing, even pensive, auras. Gentle stabs punctuate phrases that emanate vibrant, ambient acuity. This song glides about with an elegant air, aided by tasteful piano and synth runs. A pure bassline and smart breaks congeal into a jazzy groove that breathes a dynamic spirit into the track. And that switch-up in the latter half? A stroke of genius. A much needed escape, indeed!

Written by Luke Kessler

Classic Track: Spider Net – Awake

In the mid-90’s, the sound of Jungle/Drum & Bass was forever changed with the arrival of the Techstep style, showcased brilliantly by Spider Net’s Awake. Spider Net was an alias used only once — for this particular release — by none other than No U-Turn label boss and collaborator, Nicholas “Nico” Sykes.

A fat B side by any standard, Awake is a 1996 jolt of Techstep that stomps heavy and hard. The rough and rude bass here is characteristic of the No U-Turn sound for the time, and is quite honestly one of my favourite sounds in the world. Protean drum sampling establishes a decisively wicked groove comprised of three break flavors. Sparse samplings of complementary sounds provide just enough atmosphere to round out this monster of a classic.

No U-Turn’s catalogue boasts a heap of bangers like these, making it easy to see how the label’s trademark style indelibly marked the scene.

Written by Luke Kessler

Classic Track: Jazz Juice – Jazz Juice

Jazz Juice (previously known as Unit 1) was the ephemeral two-piece collaboration between Alex Reece and Wax Doctor, featured on the equally ephemeral Precious Material label formed by the steadfast Phil Wells, better known as Basement Phil (side note – an excellent account of the Precious Material label can be found over on God Is No Longer a DJ).

Jazz Juice’s self-titled song on their 1995 self-titled EP is a beauty of a tune beloved by those who are enchanted by its soothing vibes. This ramble through a languidly lush soundscape is speckled with the unmistakable Do This My Way break from Kid ’N Play that cleverly captures a cadence marked by 90s techno influence. Alex Reece and Wax Doctor employ an impeccable palette of colourful sounds, each one tastefully complementary to the last. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this tune is its clever phrasing, highlighted by alternations between just beats to beats with melodic backing. No doubt a unique track, give Jazz Juice a listen below to discover (or remember) what makes it so special.

Written by Luke Kessler

Classic Track: Nomis & Optiv – Piston

The recent passing of the venerable Edward Holmes, better known as Optiv, has been a time to celebrate his body of work. A stalwart in the pantheon of Drum & Bass luminaries, Optiv’s impact will live on forever. One such work by Nomis and Optiv sticks out indelibly for me in a lineup of classics from the Cause 4 Concern camp, released on Optiv’s Red Light Records.

Piston is an underrated 2002 track that can stand with the best bass bangers in the genre. I love to crank the dial on this tune to get the full effect of its behemoth bass…yet, I always end up having to bring it down a notch or two just because of its sheer force. Intensity is further mounted by the frantic cacophony of howls and shrieks that ensnare the atmosphere. And what’s a song in the C4C domain without slick drum sequencing? This track has it in spades. Sonorous grooves beat away in this brute force classic. Long live Optiv!

Written by Luke Kessler

Classic Track: Paradox – A Certain Sound

Dev Pandya broke onto the scene under his Paradox moniker in 1996 wielding solid amen smashers. The formidable energy and complexity of Pandya’s deft cuttage made him a staple of the Jungle/Drumfunk style. Remaining true to his sound, Paradox rocks his breaks-heavy style to this day.

Paradox’s breaks are relentless and stone cold on the early Renegade Hardware release A Certain Sound, with bass straight from the depths of an abyss. The 1996 heater employs a quote from the iconic film Dune to psychedelic effect, as Paul’s voice bounces along in hypnotic cadence, and is ultimately complemented by eerie atmospherics. This classic track is not to be missed – a considerable weapon of sound in any Jungle/Drumfunk DJ’s arsenal!

Written by Luke Kessler

Top 5: Feijai

Taking influence from the early Moving Shadow, Metalheadz and Good Looking sound, Feijai’s new EP for The Dreamers took us straight back to the 90s sound when it landed in the Dojo inbox. Naturally we had to pick the man’s brains on his influences, so here are the top five classic tunes from the Midlands-based producer…

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Classic Album: Roni Size & Reprazent – New Forms

When it comes to genre-defining albums, it doesn’t get much more legendary than New Forms. Propelling underground D&B into the mainstream musical limelight and snatching the Mercury Music Prize for good measure, the album delighted heads and newcomers alike, blending rapid drum programming with influences from jazz and hip-hop to form the perfect fusion of organic and electronic. Despite not setting out to make a crossover, Roni and the Reprazent gang certainly ended up with one.

Twenty years on, the album is getting a four disc deluxe reissue this month with the full original LP remastered, the full set of “Re Forms” remixes and most tantalisingly of all, a fresh disc featuring a live hardware mix of unreleased edits of the best tracks on the album. So how does it stand up after two decades? Pretty damn well it turns out.

The two discs of the original album have been given a fresh lick of mastering paint and are sounding just as exciting as they did in 1997, full of funky drum programming, enticing synths and classic hooks. Anyone who doesn’t get a shiver from hearing the guitar line on Brown Paper Bag just has no soul! The remixes don’t hold up as well to my ears (with a handful of exceptions) but they always felt like messing with perfection given the sheer quality of the original album.

The live hardware mix meanwhile is an absolute joy from start to finish; all of the album’s iconic tracks are there including some of the lower tempo beats and a number have been re-engineered to mash up originals and remixes, often to great effect. The new edit of Share The Fall featuring elements of Grooverider’s Jeep Style Mix proved a personal highlight amongst a thoroughly enjoyable bonus disc.

If you’re looking for the definitive version of an absolutely essential album then this is unquestionably it. Check out the first disc via Youtube below and hit up your favourite store to grab the deluxe package right now.

Classic Track: Unknown Error – The Yearning (Remaster)

Unknown Error are chiefly remembered for their hefty neurofunk outings for the likes of Lifted Music and Renegade Hardware but the duo also had a knack for the deeper side of D&B as evidenced by their 2006 single for Horizons Music, The Yearning.

Combining rough breaks with soft pads, the track explores the “liquid with teeth” style that other producers like Chris.Su have since taken up, and the track walks the line between deep euphoria and darker dancefloor sensibilities with finesse. Tasty stuff, and a record we’ve got a lot of time for here at Dojo HQ. Best of all it’s been remastered and reissued for 2017! Check out the new audio below and hit up the Horizons Store to grab the limited clear 12″ release now…

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MDZ.02 2017 Re-Mastered [Metalheadz]

In 2015, the legendary DnB label Metalheadz embarked on a project to re-master and re-release all of its classic tunes from the 90s and beyond. This was presumably done for DJs, to give high-quality downloads of early-era songs to those who have updated their equipment but not their tastes.

What it has effectively done on top of that, however, is to expose younger generations of ravers to the wonders of the Metalheadz archives, as well as to producers and sub-genres which, if not forgotten, were buried in the record crates of first-and-second-generation junglists and D&B heads. Now even the grumpiest vinyl-loving old school heads can listen to a crisp, clean WAV of Marcus Intalex’s My Soul on their computers if they so choose.

The most recent release from the “Re-Mastered” project is of 2002’s MDZ.02. Just released on Friday, this 11-track retrospective contains classics from the likes of Klute, Teebee, Loxy & Ink and a special Usual Suspects track called Tribute, an homage to the influential D&B MC Kendo, who’d recently passed at the time the track was released.

2002 was an interesting transitional time for drum and bass. Beats became much faster, samples started to be influenced by hip hop, R&B and rave, and jungle and drum and bass structures started to merge in ways that many felt were unthinkable. Metalheadz was right on the forefront of this change and its surrounding controversy, riding the crest to emerge as the well-established and cutting-edge label it is today.

MDZ.02 2017 isn’t up on Discogs yet, but it can be purchased in a number of formats on the Metalheadz website and clips can be streamed on Soundcloud.

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Written by Layla Marino

Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science
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